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This is our new home on the web. Drop by any time.
Wednesday, November 2, 2011
Tuesday, October 18, 2011
[FIND] Investigations is shedding the .blogspot.com domain for a new service.
We've boxed up all of our bow ties and seersucker posts, folded up our recipes on cocktail napkins, and sorted our business blogs. We're about to haul the whole truckload of wit and wisdom just down the road to a new service.
So, in the next week or so, we'll get an email out tho the throngs, our faithful readers, with our new blog address. Likely it'll be something like www.findinvestigations.com/blog, but we'll see.
Monday, October 10, 2011
Sometimes you can even engage. I once took a business intelligence trip to Arizona. The target company was a very large player in the hospitality industry. I stayed in the same hotel. Struck up a conversation at the bar with one of the execs, an attractive 50-ish year old female who loved to down martinis. I asked her why she was in town. She told me...For five hours, she told me. An hour into the conversation, her team showed up, introductions made all around, and they told me...My client was able to put together an entire proposal based on our conversation. Bar tab - $60.00, Hourly fees - $500, first-hand intelligence - Priceless.
2. Find the Ex: Tap into the rumor-mill and find out who's just left the competitor's ranks. (There are several industry specific news outlets that actually post revolving-door news items.) Find past employees. Ask them to dinner. Ask them questions: What does XYZ Co. do really well? How are they better than us? In which areas are they weak? Do not ask people to violate non-disclosure agreements.
3. Buy: Become a customer. Use their services. Find out, first hand, what the competition does better than you.
4. Buy (part 2): Buy stock. Seriously, buy a couple shares of the competition's stock. Now you have the right to learn anything that other shareholders know. Worth a shot.
5. Conference Hound: Go to the same trade shows. People love to brag. Let them.
Thursday, October 6, 2011
Everyday Corporate Intelligence Tricks:
- Shift that Paradigm: Typically the sales department and marketing team view competition with a degree of contempt. Fear and ignorance lead to bad decision making. Digging for dirt and trying to discredit the competition often (almost always) leads to a myopic view and bad intelligence. Step back and have a look at your competition from the perspective of a new client. View them through the eyes of a prospect, a regular player in the market with generally positive expectations. Ask what they do well. Where do they excel? How could they solve my problems? You might be surprised to learn that the competition is actually better at some things than you are. Know your competition, don’t just sling mud.
- Read: Set up an RSS feed that provides you with any stories in the media about your competition. Are stories being written about them? Are they being quoted as experts? Learn what they have to say. Google Alerts is an easy way to do this. Pay close attention to help-wanted ads. If you’ve been paying attention for some time, you’ll start to notice when the competition is staffing up for a huge new project.
- Gather Web Intelligence: Scour their corporate web site, read every bit. Download pages. Study the material. What products do they sell? What services do they provide? We actually set up a notebook for each company we’re tracking. There are several sections to these three ring binders, but the first and easiest to get is the entire content from the competition’s own web site. Review the competitions web site as if you were a new customer (see No. 1).
- Build a Network of Human Intelligence: This will take some finesse and will definitely take an investment in time, but countless people come through your office on a daily basis who can provide you with valuable, valuable information. Talk to them. UPS, FedEx, the guy who services copy machines, even the water delivery service, all fantastic sources of information. Build rapport, engage, and over time slip in some comments and questions about the competition. You’ll be surprised how much the water guy knows.
- Ask: How about this for a crazy idea: Ask the competition directly. Simple really.
Next week we’ll dig a little deeper into some more ideas for gathering intelligence on the competition.
Thursday, September 29, 2011
|Michael B. Jordan, in GQ|
Someone suggested the other day that a double breasted suit or coat might make a great addition to the PI wardrobe.
I am not a small man. I’m not huge, but by no means small. My shoulders are wide, waist within reason (slowly spreading, but still), and I stand six feet nothing. My body type is, in theory, perfect for a double breasted suit. I’ve just never been a fan.
GQ has a fantastic 9 photo spread this month of Michael B. Jordan, that loveable QB from the Dillon Lions (Friday Night Lights), wearing a series of double breasted suits and coats. He, as one would expect, looks fantastic. The key seems to be in the tailoring.
For a double breasted jacket, one should spend some time with a tailor. The coat should fit snugly, and it shouldn't be too long. Bring in the waist line and accentuate the shoulders. Look for no fewer than six buttons (three on each side) and a peaked lapel. These details draw attention to the shoulders, which is what the DB suit is all about.
Since the DB covers up more neckwear than a single breasted coat, it’s best to pick a spread collar shirt to show off that fantastic tie. And since the DB just seems more formal than the standard suit-coat, it’s perfect for a bow-tie. (Had to get that in)
Accessories - This is a perfect opportunity to throw in some color. Again, the abundance of material in the DB hides most of your tie, so have some fun – tuck in a colorful pocket square.
If you’re going to don the DB, then you must pay some attention to the pants. I usually stick with flat front, straight legged trousers, but for the DB one needs pants that hold it together. A simple pleat and a substantial cuff are required, otherwise the outfit looks top-heavy. Jeans are another thing altogether and I’m not sure the juxtaposition would work, but – hey – if the shoes, shirt, tie and pocket square are perfect, - maybe???
Final thoughts: As I said, the DB coat is not my personal favorite, but I’m willing to try. I’ve been perusing the aisles at FLIP, looking for a double breasted coat to add to the wardrobe. We’ll see…
Monday, September 26, 2011
The myth of the PI (or spy) is a story of longing. The noir hero came of age in an era of financial collapse, Fascism, Communism, and world war. He was the hero we wanted then, willing to dirty his hands in the service of Good...and he dressed the part.
Who knows? He and his fedora might have melted perfectly into the murky night in occupied Paris or Cold-War-Era Warsaw. Or maybe even in 1950s Chinatown.
Today, he's as useless as a Crown Vic when it comes to surveillance.
Cover for Status - an activity, outfit, and/or manner that provides a false pretext for being in a certain place, so that agent may conduct surveillance without arousing suspicion
Cover for Action - an activity, outfit, and/or manner that provides a false pretext for doing something, so that agent may conduct some type of covert activity without arousing suspicion
In the modern-day PI universe, a guy in a fedora and trench doesn't disappear into the scenery so well. The unsexy truth of it is this: to fade into the background, a PI's gotta set aside fashion and mystery and shoot for dull. To become invisible, or at least to seem so ordinary as to become de facto invisible, (s)he's gotta look like exactly what you'd expect to see in any given environment. A guy sitting in a car with tinted windows arouses suspicion. A guy standing by a work vehicle wearing a hard hat and manipulating some combination of survey tripod, orange cones, and clipboard does not warrant a second glance.
Creating a plausible cover for status means blending in seamlessly to a range of situations—wearing an outfit that makes people forget to see you, doing things that conform to people's idea of what a person in that outfit should be doing, and having a simple story or act ready to go when you're questioned. Magnetic vehicle signs with a fake company logo can complete the story, but make sure the phone number isn't a dead end...or your personal cell phone number.
Cover for action gets a little more complicated, but the same idea applies: have a good reason to be there. Need to get a quick look inside a new house without pulling a B&E (lawbreaking is NOT recommended)? Drop by and welcome the new neighbors to the 'hood with a lovely fruit basket from the local church or neighborhood association.
In the end, "cover" is the operative word: it's about camouflage, urban or otherwise. You can hide almost anywhere by looking as if you belonged there. Ghillie suit seldom, if ever, required.
Tuesday, September 20, 2011
Police inquisitors, detectives, and interrogators have long been taught that one method of getting to the truth is to have the subject recount events in reverse order. The theory appears sound: people like to fill in the blanks in a story with constructs, thoughts or images that did not actually happen, to make a tale run smoother. Remove the linear nature of storytelling and the tendency to confabulate should decrease. The theory is so sound, in fact, that police forces in Australia, Britain, New Zealand, Norway, and Spain, to name a few, have been using reverse recall as a matter of policy for years.
I attended a seminar on interviewing where the speaker actually said that this method of interrogation was the most useful way to elicit a truthful statement from an interviewee. “They don’t have the time or the creativity to make things up in reverse-recall,” my instructor said.
Well, as with many a fine theory, when put to scientific rigor, it falls short.
A brief story in September 2, 2011 issue of The Economist details a study by
which basically debunks this theory. The researchers showed a short film depicting a cell phone robbery. Two days later the subjects of the test were separated into three groups: 1 – recall the events freely then in reverse order, 2 – recall the robbery in reverse order first then freely, 3 - (control group) recall the events freely both times. Lancaster University
The researchers found that the control group recalled the events correctly 48.7 percent of the time. The group that began with reverse-recall and then recounted the story freely scored 42.2 percent accuracy. The group that started with free recall then reverse-recall scored a pathetic 38.7 percent. I think it’s important to note that eyewitness testimony has already been proven to be less than reliable on several occasions. Seriously, none of the groups achieved even 50% correct recall.
The most interesting finding, however, was that the number of mistakes made among the three groups was roughly the same, but the group that recalled events in reverse order first, actually made up (pure confabulation) recollections 600% more often than the control group.
The majority of the confabulations were observed during the reverse recall portion of the exam. This flies directly in the face of what I’ve been taught in seminars and classes about interview and interrogation.
Why people, people who have no reason whatsoever to lie, make up events when using reverse-recall is a mystery. The Economist says that this study, “…does, however, point out the dangers of taking even logically plausible ideas on trust, rather than testing them.”
Those of you who testify as expert witnesses in court proceedings might want to check out the study here. It could come in handy one day.